Not all interviews are the same, but many interviewers ask the same questions. Knowing possible interview questions and potential responses can eliminate some anxiety and make you sound organized and polished.
We spoke with Rachel Ritlop, a career and business coach and founder of The Confused Millennial, for tips on common interview questions and how you can make your responses to them not just good but great.
“This is usually the first question, so make sure to nail it,” Ritlop says. Some people may think they don’t need to practice this answer because they know themselves and think they can reply on the spot, but she says not preparing could result in rambling.
Ritlop says your reply to this question should showcase why you’re interested in this industry, but it should be in the form of a story. “Tell a short story or reference a defining moment in your life, then start to talk about how you realized your innate skill in the position,” she says.
When talking about your skills, offer support with things that bosses or co-workers have said about you. You should also anticipate questions the interviewer might have from your résumé, she says, and employment gaps or career transitions can be addressed here. Lastly, she says, “close with your goal.”
We are often told to “turn a weakness into a positive,” but Ritlop says interviewers don’t want to hear that. By citing a positive that you cast as a negative, you aren’t answering the true question and therefore the interviewer doesn’t get the value they are looking for.
“Instead, prepare a response that shows humility, willingness [to be forthright] and responsibility by identifying a weakness,” she says. To make your answer great, tell the interviewer your weakness and the actions you’ve taken to change it. For example, she said, you could say, “In the past, I’ve really struggled with remembering people’s names, so I practice repeating their name after they say it and when we part ways after our initial meeting. It’s really been helpful.”
No matter the reason why you left a previous job, Ritlop says you should not speak negatively about your old bosses or co-workers, even if they were completely in the wrong. Instead, she says, “focus on what specifically drew you to this company” that you’re interviewing with. It is always better to focus on the reasons you want to join the new company than the reasons you left the previous one, she says.
Interviewers who are looking for candidates with specific skill sets or experiences will ask the “tell me about a time when…” question. They want you to illustrate that you have and know how to use leadership, communication or technical skills needed for the position.
Ritlop says to come prepared with two to three “PAR” stories that illustrate a problem you faced, the action you took and the results you achieved. Preparing the story ahead of time will help you showcase your thought processes for dealing with the problem and the clear results of your solution.
“There are only two wrong answers here,” Ritlop says: “Saying ‘no’ and jumping into salary and benefits.” Instead, you will need to have specific and thoughtful questions to show your interest in the company. She says examples could include questions like “how have people excelled in this position in the past” or “how would you describe the company culture or atmosphere?”
Well-thought-out questions help you expand your conversation with the interviewer and learn more about the company, she says.
Louisiana Job Connection is a full-service employment hub.Complete your profile today and let Louisiana Job Connection match you with a job that’s tailored for your skills and experience.